Governor directs state health commissioner to issue COVID-19 compliance order to hot spot local governments

ALBANY. Failure by local governments to enforce public health regulations can result in penalties of up to $10,000 per day.

| 02 Oct 2020 | 04:08

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday, Oct. 2, that the Commissioner of Health will send an order to COVID-19 hot spot local governments today establishing a framework for reporting their enforcement activities.

The order also will set specific consequences for failure to enforce the State Department of Health Emergency Regulations and the Governor’s Executive Orders related to social distancing, mask compliance and capacity limitations.

If local governments do not enforce these legally binding requirements, they will be in violation of the order and can be subject to fines. Failure to adhere to the order can result in penalties of up to $10,000 per day.

Earlier this week, the state began deployng rapid result testing machines to areas with upticks in COVID-19 cases. Many of those communities are home to Orthodox Jews, including those living in Kiryas Joel, which is also known as Town of Palm Tree.

“The Commissioner of Health will issue a Section 16 order to the local governments advising them that they have to step up the compliance, that it is the law,” Cuomo said, “and if the local governments don’t step up the compliance they will actually be in violation of the law and they can be fined.

“I have asked the local governments many times to actually do the compliance,” the governor added. “Compliance is not public education — it is enforcement. People know what the rules are and they’ve heard them every day. Local governments have to do enforcement. Whether or not it fits with their political agenda really is pointless. It’s the law and their job is to enforce the law.”

The governor also said earlier this week that he would draft police officers from local departments for a special State Police Task Force to enforce COVID-19 precautions such as wearing a face mask and social distancing if local governments did not enforce the public health and safety requirements.